Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors is as big as a 747, and yet NBA fans have still managed to overlook him. Sooner or later, that’s bound to end.
Through 48 games this season, the third overall pick in the 2010 Draft is averaging 15.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 1.6 bpg. He’s also posted a PER a of 22.3, which puts him right between Dwyane Wade and Jeff Teague amidst the League’s leaderboard.
It’s not all about the numbers with the 6-10 Favors, though. In fact, the only thing more slept on than his prodigious two-way game is his candid southern personality. In a phone call a little while back, the gent from Atlanta, GA, touched on everything from football to racquetball, Earl Watson to Al Jefferson, and Jeezy to old school cars.
As soon as the Jazz start winning some games, safe to say, Favors will take his rightful place as a regular part of Twitter’s running NBA commentary. Until then, start reading up.
SLAM: You went from Georgia Tech to the Nets to the Jazz. Is Utah more your style than New York was?
Derrick Favors: Being in New York was fun and all, but it’s too fast for me. Me being from down in the south, New York was just too fast. Utah, though, is a little bit better, in my opinion.
SLAM: I’m a hip-hop head so I have to ask you: What’s the music scene like in Utah?
DF: Music? (Laughs hysterically) There’s no hip-hop going on out here. I think they’re more into country and pop-type music.
SLAM: I know you’re still true to your roots, though, and blasting that southern music, right?
DF: Oh, yeah, I got to. I don’t listen to none of the stuff up here.
SLAM: What are you listening to nowadays?
DF: I like mostly everybody from the south: TI, Jeezy, Gucci Mane. Young Thug’s kinda hot right now. I like the new music when I get a chance to here it, but they don’t play it a lot over here. The only way I get to here new music is on YouTube or some different websites.
SLAM: How do you stay up on music?
DF: My girlfriend, really, will go to Atlanta sometimes during the season and she’ll come back with new songs. I also have some friends who call me and tell me. try to stay up on it.
SLAM: What do you listen to before games?
DF: I keep headphones on, and I listen to a lot of Gucci. If not him, I listen to Jeezy songs.
SLAM: So I have to put you on the spot: Who are your top five rappers right now?
DF: Period or right now?
SLAM: If you could only take five albums to a desert island, whose albums would they be?
DF: One has to be Gucci. Has to be him! Biggie, I like Biggie. Tupac. Outkast and Dom Kennedy. I like Dom a lot. I put my girl onto his music, too. You know how I found out about Dom? I was listening to XM radio and the DJ started talking about how Kevin Durant loved this thing called The Yellow Album. So, the DJ played “My Type of Party,” by Dom, and I was put on after that.
SLAM: To transition into basketball, sorta, what was the worst way you got hazed as a rookie?
DF: I didn’t have to do nothing crazy. I remember one time when I was with New Jersey, I had to carry all the bags from the bus, to the hotel and upstairs—and it was snowing outside. I had to do it in all the cold cities. Detroit, New York, Chicago. Everyone got to pay their dues, man.
SLAM: You trained out in California at P3 this past summer, right?
DF: Yeah. I’ve been going out there since I got traded Utah. I love it. I love the weather, the beach. It’s almost like a mini-vacation spot. You work out in the morning, and by 1 o’clock you have the rest of the day free.
SLAM: Yeah. I saw you tweet something about playing racquetball.
DF: Yeah, that’s something new I added to my resume. (Laughs.)
SLAM: What was that like?
DF: I was playing with my girlfriend’s uncle. He’s from Miami, and he plays it a lot. So, he was teaching me how to play, and it’s got to be one of the hardest sports I’ve ever played. I was out there dripping wet with sweat and he was dry, not even tired, not even breathing hard.
SLAM: Now you’re gonna have 50 year olds out here thinking they can outrun you.
DF: Shoot, maybe they can. Those old guys who play racquetball. It’s a cool sport, though.
SLAM: When you were coming up, did you play a bunch of sports?
DF: I played football for a very short period of time.
SLAM: Just decided to give it up?
DF: I love football, but it wasn’t for me. I love watching and going to games, and I’ll play flag football any day. But regular football getting tackled and all that? That’s too much for me.
SLAM: We got to get the word to KD that next time he has a game you want in.
DF: Hey, I’ll play.
SLAM: I have to assume you’re an Atlanta Falcons fan, then, right?
SLAM: Since you went to Georgia Tech, though, you’ve got to be a Calvin Johnson fan, too, right?
DF: Yeah, yeah. I’ll put it this way: I’m not a Detroit fan, but I’m a Calvin Johnson fan.
SLAM: Most people say Johnson is the best athlete to come out of GTech. What do you think about that one?
DF: I can’t argue with that one (laughs).
SLAM: It’s amazing to me that you’re already in your fifth season. Does it seem like time is flying by?
DF: It does. I still remember getting drafted and being a rookie in New Jersey. It feels like yesterday.
SLAM: If you had the chance to go back and talk to yourself as a rookie, what would you say?
DF: Man, I would tell him to prepare to get traded. That was the biggest shock to me.
SLAM: Did that let you know right away that the NBA is all business?
DF: Yeah. Soon as I got drafted there were trade rumors, so it was stressful.
SLAM: Do you ever get used to all that talk, or do you just learn to live with it?
DF: After a while, you know it’s part of the business. You have to look at it as another team wanting you. By my second year, vets talked to me and I came to accept it.
SLAM: When you got to Utah, mid-season and all, did anyone take you under their wing?
DF: The first person to talk to me was Earl Watson. Him and big Al [Jefferson] were the guys I was closest to before they left.
SLAM: A lot of people say Earl Watson has the makings of a future head coach.
DF: Yeah, he’s a great person. He’s a smart person, and he has an incredible mind for basketball. Like, I sat next to him on the plane for two years and we would just sit and talk about basketball and life. I learned a lot from him. I hated to see him leave, but I still talk to him.
SLAM: Big Al makes sense. Did you guys hit it off quick too?
DF: Yeah, we would go at it in practice all the time. He was a big part of my development.
SLAM: In the short run, Jefferson might’ve kept you on the bench. In the long run, though, he probably made you a better player.
DF: It took me a while to understand that. I wanted more playing time; I thought I deserved it. But then I understood I was playing behind Big Al and Paul Milsap, so I decided I should learn as much as I could from them so when my time comes I’d be OK.
SLAM: Was it weird for you to see Paul and Al leave and kind’ve blow up last season?
DF: I knew both of them were All-Stars. I was happy Paul made it, and I wanted Al to make it too. You know how it is.
SLAM: I do know how it is. In that sense, seems people are finally catching on to you. Did you feel the pressure of increased expectations coming into this season?
DF: Not pressure from the fans, but from what the coaches expected out of me.
SLAM: What’s different about your role this year?
DF: I’m one of the main guys on the offensive end, and before this everyone just knew I was pretty good at defense. I want to be more of a vocal leader on defense still.
SLAM: Is it exciting for you to be more involved in the offense?
DF: I’m excited! It’s my first time being involved since I’m in the League. In NJ, I played the weakside. Since I got here, I played off of Paul or Al. So this is my first time being the main guy down low to make the play.
SLAM: You excited about what you guys are building in Utah?
DF: I’m excited, but I know it’s going to be a process and we have to grow up kind of quickly.
SLAM: I have to ask, man, I see you’re into cars?
DF: I love cars.
SLAM: Did you like them growing up or only since you got into the League?
DF: I’ve always been into cars. Like, I wanted to be a mechanic but my hands were too big. I’d scratch my hands up or..my hands were just too big to deal with! If I could, I’d buy all the cars in the world, but I’ve got to be smart with my money. I enjoy going to car shows, though.
SLAM: Do you own anything extra nice?
DF: Anything nice? Well, I’ve got three cars: I have an Escalade; I have a 600 Benz; and I’ve got a 427 Camaro.
SLAM: I was about to say, we’ve got to get you a 1975 Caprice or something.
DF: Man, I’m looking for an old school. I want one so bad, but I know it might be a few years.
SLAM: What would your dream car be?
DF: I’m more of a muscle car-kind’ve guy, so an old-school Camaro or Challenger. One of those.
SLAM: You have to have a color on that.
DF: Black! All old-school cars are in black.
SLAM: Regular black or matte black?
DF: Man, I don’t know! I think the matte looks better on new cars. Old school needs like a shiny coat. It has to be shiny, man.